Volvo to Make HD Radio Standard for 2009 Models


In manufacturers’ constant arms race to include better perks for drivers, Volvo will make HD radio receivers standard in almost all of its models beginning in the second half of 2008.

Still in relative infancy, HD radio promises better sound quality than standard radio and offers vastly expanded programming. This includes access to news, weather, school closings and other emergency information right on the display screen.

Far from a monolithic set of stations with the same programming whether you’re driving in Seattle, Kansas City or New York, HD radio varies geographically, offering different stations in different locations that will remind listeners of the quaint ways of old-fashioned AM/FM radio. Across the country, radio stations are making the switch to HD broadcasting. Nearly 2,000 stations either broadcast in HD or offer HD2 multicasts on the FM dial with no subscription fee.

While reception may be spotty in certain areas, that won’t be so different from driving through west Texas trying to find a decent classic rock station.

Interestingly, there are a few exclusions in Volvo’s list of models that will have HD radio. Not listed are the base S40 or V50, nor is the S60. That makes us wonder whether the S60 will be around in 2009.

By Stephen Markley | November 28, 2007 | Comments (6)

Pontiac's New Experimental Logo


We’ve gone a few days without talking about the Pontiac G8, so it should be safe to bring it up again, right? OK, we promise not to talk about the G8 itself, but instead the new Pontiac emblem GM unveiled on the show car. The silver emblem was created to replace the conventional red Pontiac logo we’ve grown accustomed over the past 40 years or so. Obviously, a car company doesn’t mess with that much tradition without some market research, and the Chicago Auto Show is ripe with consumers. We like the new look, and it sure will be easier to swallow on certain exterior colors. What do you think? Is it time for a change? Should GM keep it the way it is? Is this more interesting than the Ford Taurus naming announcement?

By David Thomas | February 12, 2007 | Comments (14)

2007 Chicago Auto Show: Scion xB and xD Video


Last week, Senior Editor Joe Wiesenfelder spent some up-close-and-personal time with the all-new Scion xB and xD subcompacts, and we got it all on film. Well, digital film anyway, and the video is now live on our Chicago Auto Show page. Go check it out and see how much legroom that xB really has.

Five Axis Dresses the xB and xD
2007 Chicago Auto Show: More on the 2008 Scion xD, Arriving in August
2007 Chicago Auto Show: More on the 2008 Scion xB, Arriving in April

By David Thomas | February 12, 2007 | Comments (1)

2007 Chicago Auto Show: Winners and Losers


It’s about that time. The media preview is over and the doors to the 2007 Chicago Auto Show have opened to the public.’s Mike Hanley, David Thomas and Joe Wiesenfelder spent the past two days walking the 1.3 million square feet of the show to bring you the best and worst of what’s new, so you won’t have to waste your time with the riffraff. This rundown focuses only on the new vehicles that debuted in Chicago, but most of the production and concept cars we rated at the Detroit show will also be there.

2008 Pontiac G8

DT: Winner
Unquestionably my “Best of Show” pick. Even with the outdated hood scoops — they do look better in person — the G8 is Pontiac’s best offering in a long time and, unlike the Solstice, will sell to a lot of people. This is exactly what Pontiac needs, and it aims right at the heart of the brand’s identity.

MH: Winner
I'm a big fan of sport sedans in general, and the G8 gives Pontiac a credible entry in the segment. I, too, wish Pontiac hadn't poked any holes in the hood, but otherwise the look is sporty without going overboard. The V-8 edition will undoubtedly be a riot, but I wish Pontiac offered a manual with the base V-6, too.

JW: Big Winner
My first cars were giant rear-wheel-drive sedans powered by big-block V-8s — GM cars, incidentally. (Technically, this 6.0-liter is a small block, but as today's blocks go, at least the displacement is big.) The six-speed manual is a big, big draw to the target buyer. Ditto on the hood nostrils, and on the car's presence when you see it in person. Pontiac included body cues that make the car look muscular — without making it cartoony. They're learning.

By David Thomas | February 9, 2007 | Comments (3)

2007 Chicago Auto Show: Pontiac G8 Video

We don’t normally point to enthusiast sites, but posted via YouTube this video of the new Pontiac G8 that debuted in Chicago on Wednesday, and we just had to put it up. There’s nothing quite like seeing a car in motion to tell you how it will look in the real world. Plus, this one’s red! We will say that the sound doesn’t seem to always be coming from the G8, but otherwise it’s worth the time to watch. Enjoy.

By David Thomas | February 9, 2007 | Comments (2)

Pontiac G8 Interior Up Close


Pontiac's new G8 performance sedan was one of the most significant debuts at the Chicago Auto Show, and any enthusiast going to the show should check it out. If you can't make it, no problem; this photo blog of the car's interior will bring it to you.

By Mike Hanley | February 9, 2007 | Comments (22)

2007 Chicago Auto Show: Day 2 Live Photo Galleries


We’re packing up our cameras, notepads, laptops and press kits and heading home, as the second media day at the Chicago Auto Show comes to a close. While this year’s show wasn’t as busy as ones in past years, there were significant vehicles to see. Make sure you check out the rest of our full reports and live photo galleries on our main Chicago Auto Show page.

By David Thomas | February 8, 2007 | Comments (1)

Five Axis Dresses the xB and xD


As fast as you could say “xB and xD,” Scion wheeled out aftermarket versions of its latest crop of compact cars. The automaker gave an xB and xD to California-based Five Axis, the brains behind Scion’s Fuse concept from last year’s New York Auto Show. The cars came back spruced up with enough aftermarket gear to earn them background spots on “4Fast 4Furious: Seoul Food.” (We’re kidding on that, we hope.)

On the xB, there’s enough go to match the show. A supercharger and a cold-air intake system from Toyota’s TRD performance wing boosts power from 158 hp to around 200 hp. A new suspension lowers the car 2 inches, and six-spoke 19-inch wheels wear Yokohama tires. A wraparound body kit is there because, well, every tuner car needs a body kit.

By Kelsey Mays | February 8, 2007 | Comments (15)

2008 Scion tC Gets Standard iPod Integration, New Grille


The tC coupe doesn’t get the radical redesign that the 2008 xB did, but it does get a few touches to keep the 2008 model fresh when it arrives this summer. A new black grille with varying sizes of circles, like those on the new xB and xD, has been added, along with new headlight and taillight treatments that resemble the tC’s new family members.

The inside remains pretty much the same, with iPod integration now a standard feature. This allows iPod owners complete control of their tunes via stereo and steering-wheel controls, and the stereo head unit displays track names and artist information. The seat fabric has been upgraded, and there are more silver-accented touches on the doors and center stack.

Surprisingly, two popular colors — Azure Pearl and Black Cherry Mica — have been replaced in 2008 by Crimson Mica and Wave Line Pearl.

By David Thomas | February 8, 2007 | Comments (29)

Maserati Joins Certified Pre-Owned Business


With the launch of the Maserati Trident Discoveries Certified Pre-Owned Program at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, the Italian luxury brand joins Bentley and Ferrari as yet another ultraluxury brand with a CPO program.

Maserati’s program ensures that the odometer is accurate and that the car hasn’t been in a serious accident or driven on a track. We’re not sure how Maserati can claim for certain that the Quattroporte you’re looking at hasn’t been thrown around a racetrack a time or two, but the likelihood of that ever happening is admittedly low. The program also includes a 120-point inspection and roadside assistance.

What do you think of these programs? Do you think the price of certification is worth any extra peace of mind that may come with it — and does it become even more important when springing for a high-dollar used luxury car?

Year-End Maserati Incentives

By Mike Hanley | February 8, 2007 | Comments (0)

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